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Strength Athletes - High protein intake affecting strength/fat loss?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 06, 2012 at 1:01 PM

What is does your protein intake look like? Has high (1.5-2g/lb bodyweight or more) protein intake affected your training and/or fat loss?

I thought of this question after reading "The Myth of 1g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders", and thinking for a long time that I needed less that 1g of protein per day. I also tended to ignore all the talk on protein requirements since I'm a strength athlete, and all that advice was for normal people, not me. I guess I was wrong?

My backstory:
I'm training for strongman right now, and eating roughly 180-200g protein per day, and I weigh 220lbs, on a 5'11" frame. I'm not lean, so probably 30-40lbs of that mass is fat. Previously I was eating 300-350g protein, and noticing that my lifts really weren't going anywhere, and that I wasn't losing any fat either. I was rather puzzled. I guess I had part of the powerlifting mentality that you can train hard, and just eat a ton of protein to recover faster. That was winter of 2010-11 to the summer of 2011. Since I've changed to eating less protein, I've noticed that my lifts are starting to go up, my muscles are looking better, which makes me think that I'm leaning out a bit. I should also mention that in the winter of 2010-11, I was keto, but in the summer of 2011 I was eating more carbs. Fall 2011 I was in keto, dropped my protein down to 180g or less a day, while having high fats, and still noticed some fat loss, although I wasn't training.

Kind of along those lines, the lower protein intake is cheaper, which is nice. But I'm finding it actually kind of hard not to eat 250g+ or protein a day.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 07, 2012
at 12:36 PM

When competing my lean mass was around 78% of my bodyweight (now that I don't lift as heavy or frequently it's considerably lower (but my bodyweight is 70lbs less than it was then as well). The additional carbs are probably helping more than the increased protein. Protein is important, I don't believe the 1gm per pound bodyweight is gospel, but if you can get it without supplementation you should be golden.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 05, 2012
at 11:48 AM

Joshua - I was kind of hoping you'd see this question, thanks for your response. I'm pretty much just looking at whole food sources of protein, so I'm pretty much just concerned with protein amounts. How much lean mass did you have when you were doing 180g and 220g? I'm thinking my lean mass is around 180-190, but I haven't had it checked. The past weeks I'm taking in 200-240g per day, but I've reduced my fats and upped my carbs (100-200g/day) and my lifts are doing better. So, aside from that little status update of mine, supplemental protein really isn't that important?

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 05, 2012
at 10:53 AM

You are right wisper but that would only be relevant for folks *replacing* their food with protein, not people *supplementing* their food with it.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on May 04, 2012
at 10:02 PM

I haven't done the math, but protein powders can be cheaper than buying same amount of protein as meat. Of course meat has all kinds of nutrients, but it's an important consideration for many who are considering high-protein diet.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on April 06, 2012
at 05:04 PM

My total calories were kept pretty much the same. Replaced the protein with fat.

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3 Answers

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 04, 2012
at 08:03 PM

Hey Bristlebeard, I had competed in strongman for almost a decade, my last competition was in 2009 - NAS Nationals in Salt Lake City. During that decade I experimented from the extreme to very moderate in my protein intake.

I can tell you that increased protein all the time marginally improved my recovery... as in, it could have helped, or it may have just been the additional calories.

At one point as a self-experiment I cut all supplemental protein out of my diet, and continued to maintain/gain strength.

Eventually, I got to the strongman "clean" diet, lots of "loin" cuts of beef, turkey, sweet potatoes, grits, and quinoa... oats and eggs (2 yolks and 10 whites) for breakfast, stuff like that - I avoided gluten because I simply believed that most gluten foods (with the exception of the barilla plus pasta) was really really bad for you (and I was right!).

My total protein intake was between 180gm and 220gm and I competed as a SHW. Supplements were heavy on the fish oil, psyllium husks, and ZMA. I didn't start taking supplements again until I briefly landed a supplement sponsor that provided me with 8lbs of protein powder a month as well as other supplements. I decided to use their supplements and hawk them on their site and forums, but honestly besides a few of their other, non-protein supplements, the additional protein didn't help me that much. After my endorsement dried up, so did my protein powder.

By the end of it, I didn't see the benefit of sinking so much money into supplemental protein - to the extent that most strength athletes do... it's just a money sink.

I personally have a small amount of supplemental protein the day after a particularly strenuous workout, and that's all I do now. I buy unflavored CFM whey and have about 3 scoops (about 75gm protein) twice a week.

OF course, my training is much less severe these days (two weight training days / week with swimming, biking, and walking taking the bulk of my activities).

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 05, 2012
at 11:48 AM

Joshua - I was kind of hoping you'd see this question, thanks for your response. I'm pretty much just looking at whole food sources of protein, so I'm pretty much just concerned with protein amounts. How much lean mass did you have when you were doing 180g and 220g? I'm thinking my lean mass is around 180-190, but I haven't had it checked. The past weeks I'm taking in 200-240g per day, but I've reduced my fats and upped my carbs (100-200g/day) and my lifts are doing better. So, aside from that little status update of mine, supplemental protein really isn't that important?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on May 04, 2012
at 10:02 PM

I haven't done the math, but protein powders can be cheaper than buying same amount of protein as meat. Of course meat has all kinds of nutrients, but it's an important consideration for many who are considering high-protein diet.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 05, 2012
at 10:53 AM

You are right wisper but that would only be relevant for folks *replacing* their food with protein, not people *supplementing* their food with it.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 07, 2012
at 12:36 PM

When competing my lean mass was around 78% of my bodyweight (now that I don't lift as heavy or frequently it's considerably lower (but my bodyweight is 70lbs less than it was then as well). The additional carbs are probably helping more than the increased protein. Protein is important, I don't believe the 1gm per pound bodyweight is gospel, but if you can get it without supplementation you should be golden.

1
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 04, 2012
at 06:55 PM

I cannot find the study currently, but I believe the Mayo Clinic took 3 groups and put them on different levels of protein while monitoring muscle synthesis. The groups were on 0.7g per lean mass, 1.0g per lean mass, and 1.4g per lean mass. There was no notable difference between the groups in muscle synthesis. I think a non-athlete is recommended to get roughly 0.3g per lean mass to maintain mass.

That being said, there is a lot of misinformation on this subject. I strength train and shoot for 1.0g per lean mass pound and do not worry if I fall a bit under at times. I'm a small guy at 5'8" and 165 and shoot for a lean mass of 155. I noticed a positive difference in recovery when I started taking whey protein/creatine before a work out, BCAA's during a workout, and a mix of whey/casein/carbs after a work out.

I decreased from 180 to 165 pounds over the span of 2 months by creating a calorie deficit. I kept my macronutrients balanced (40% protein, 35% carbs, 25% fat). I have been able to maintain my lifts. I have kind of stalled out for a couple of weeks but had a vacation and an out town trip that interfered with my nutrition. :)

0
Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on April 06, 2012
at 03:48 PM

If you went from 350g to 180g a day that's 680 calories in protein alone. That could explain your looking leaner.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on April 06, 2012
at 05:04 PM

My total calories were kept pretty much the same. Replaced the protein with fat.

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